Aug 5

Coon Rapids, Iowa – Truly a Great Place!

posted in Architecture, Architect & Design, General, Reuse, Renovation & Historic Preservation

One of the Great Places of Coon Rapids – Armour Building circa 1958

K/O travelog – This town is now officially a Great Place after being designated so in 2005, no longer a hidden haven of paradise in the middle-west portion of Iowa. Our recent visit to this town (population 1,300) left us in awe of its progressive attitude, friendly folks, abundant amenities, and commitment to miles of trails, arts, and preservation.

Here is a little history on Coon Rapids (taken from the – “Welcome to Coon Rapids” visitor’s guide):

In the 1930s, Coon Rapids began a new era as the cradle of the hybrid seed corn. In 1930, the colorful Roswell “Bob” Garst, working with Henry Wallace, grew his first commercial crop of seed corn. That winter he and local partner Charles Thomas founded the Garst & Thomas Hybrid Seed Corn Company. Their seed corn processing plant soon became the largest in the world. Garst’s innovations in hybrid seed, fertilizer and cattle feeding were a central part of the “green revolution” that enabled Iowa to move into its own as a major world producer of field corn and soybeans.

In 1959, Coon Rapids hit the front pages of newspapers world-wide when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev came to Coon Rapids to visit his friend Bob at the Garst Farm. Located just southeast of town, this historic farm is now the headquarters of Whiterock Conservancy.

As the seed corn plant thrived, Thomas and Garst families continued to invest in Coon Rapids. Charles and Bertha Thomas established the city-owned Thomas Rest Haven in 1968, and also paid for hundreds of trees to replace elms hit by Dutch Elm Disease. In 1985 the Garst Seed company was purchased by the British ICI and is today owned by the Swiss-owned agribusiness giant Syngenta.

We plan many more visits …so, we’ll be back and we’ll tell you more, so stay tuned!

Front porch of the Armour Building Today. What an opportunity for a beautiful renovation

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